For Mia, it started with a severe headache.
Cooper had a bruise that just wouldn’t go away, and Tyler had random aches that most parents would associate with growing pains.
Although their symptoms were different, they were united in battling the same disease. Cancer.
It’s a word that strikes fear into the hearts of even the most courageous individuals, so imagine if the person diagnosed with cancer is a child. For Mia, Cooper and Tyler, it was a grim reality.
Childhood is supposed to be a carefree and magical time, but each year more than 18,000 children under the age of 19 are diagnosed with cancer. Sadly, nearly 2,000 of them will not reach adulthood in 2015.
And while research and development of new therapies for other cancers continue to race forward, awareness and funding of children’s cancer remains dreadfully low. In fact, children’s cancer is one of the most under-funded categories of all cancer research.
It’s with these sobering statistics that Grand Canyon University Foundation has set out to raise awareness and money through the Run to Fight Children’s Cancer.
Since its inception five years ago, the run has gained thousands of supporters and raised nearly $300,000 to support the tireless work of Phoenix Children’s Hospital and Children’s Cancer Network.
Serving as more than a medical provider and charitable partner, these organizations are advocates, sounding boards and often the biggest champions of children with cancer and their families. The stories they encounter every day are serious, often filled with raw emotion and unfeigned helplessness that only a devastating nightmare of this magnitude can bring to a family.
But fighting childhood cancer isn’t the work of one, two or even a handful of organizations. It takes a village to provide financial, educational and psychological support to families in our neighborhoods, across the Valley and throughout the state.
The 2015 Run to Fight Children’s Cancer is slated for March 7 at Grand Canyon University. This year’s goal is to attract 4,000 participants and raise $150,000 for the CCN, PCH and ultimately families in their quest to battle this dreadful disease.
Whether you walk, run or cheer from the sidelines, every act will make a positive difference in the lives of children and families.
Sussely Morales is community outreach manager at Grand Canyon University and race coordinator of the Run to Fight Children’s Cancer. For more information and to register for the race, visit runtofightcancer.com or text “fightcancer” to 41444 to make a $5 donation.